The United States and its allies are racing to draw up contingency plans in case supplies of Russian gas crucial to powering businesses and heating homes in Europe are choked off by conflict in Ukraine.
Europe would struggle to survive for long without Russian gas, and finding alternative sources presents a huge logistical challenge -- a reality that's stoking concerns about the continent's access to energy during an already difficult winter.
"There's not really a quick and easy alternative," said Janis Kluge, an expert on Eastern Europe at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs.
Senior White House officials told reporters this week they are talking to countries and companies about ramping up output. They're also trying to identify alternative sources of natural gas that could be rerouted to Europe.
Yet executing such a large intervention in energy markets would be tricky. New pipelines and gas liquefaction facilities take years to build. And redirecting large volumes of the fossil fuel at a time when the global market and transport networks are already stretched would require cooperation from major gas exporters like Qatar, which may not have much wiggle room.
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